The St. Pat's For All Parade, now in its 21st year, has become a local tradition in Queens
The 21st annual St. Pat's For All Parade stepped off in cold but sunny weather in Queens on Sunday, March 1.
The joyous community-centric parade was a riot of colorful marchers and musicians as it made its way from Skillman Avenue in Sunnyside to the concluding point in Woodside, flanked by the city's top tier politicians.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents the Woodside Sunnyside neighborhood, told the marchers that the parade is a jewel in the local calendar.
“I want to thank the organizers and leaders of St. Pat's For All parade,” she told the crowd. “I think this is a parade that embraces and loves immigrants and it is itself a very special jewel in that history.”
“It is in no small part all thanks to the beautiful and inclusive Irish community that has such a rich history right here in Sunnyside and Woodside. If it wasn't for this history, if it wasn't for you all, it would not have happened."
“So the spirit of today is about inclusivity and celebration and uplifting one of the very communities that New York's immigrant story is centered around and loves. And so with that, you know, we're here to celebrate each other. We're here to celebrate our Irish brothers and sisters and everyone. Everyone is Irish on Saint Patrick's Day!”
First organized in an era when Irish LGBT marchers were banned from marching in the main Fifth Avenue parade under their own banners, it has retained its activist flair whilst being embraced by the wider Queens community, including the local residents who were out in force to clap and cheer the marchers.
“One out of every six people on the island of Ireland now comes from outside the country,” celebrated Irish musician Mick Moloney, who was also co-Grand Marshall, told the crowd.
He added: “We are the first country in the world to vote by referendum to make the marriage equality legal. I'm pretty proud of our stance on diversity and proud to be here in this particular gathering.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio was in an equally celebratory mood. “Twenty-one years ago, a different kind of Irish rebellion broke out right here,” he told the crowd before the march began.
“A rebellion in favor of respecting everybody, a rebellion in favor of ensuring the whole community can participate. What happened 21 years ago is something we’re still feeling today because if it wasn’t for what happened 21 years ago a lot of people still wouldn’t be getting the respect they deserve in New York City. Now that you’re 21 years old, you can finally have a Guinness,” he added.
Two elderly ladies held a sign along the route that read, "Stop Blaspheming Our Lord Now!” but they were ignored or waved to cheerfully by the passing marchers.
The luck of the Irish was in full force as the sun stayed bright through the afternoon, when parade organizers repaired to Saints and Sinners bar and restaurant in Woodside, a longtime supporter of the parade, to the sound of traditional Irish music.
Did you attend the 21st annual St. Pat's for All Parade in Queens? Tell us about it in the comments!